In faith-based communities like those under the Bethesda Senior Living Communities umbrella, you can find many ways to get closer to God. And since maintaining spiritual health is just as important as maintaining physical health, it's a good idea to explore these opportunities.
This is one of the reasons our communities exist: to facilitate all manner of assistance both physically and spiritually. We want the residents of our communities to have energetic, fulfilled spiritual lives to go with their material ones. An excellent way to foster this level of vibrant spiritual growth is with the practice of mindfulness.
In the simplest terms, mindfulness is the conscious effort of being focused on the present — the sights, sounds, feelings and thoughts of what’s happening at that exact time. It’s a method of working to keep the mind from wandering away to other thoughts and staying grounded within the present.
If that sounds a bit like meditation or mysticism to you, you wouldn’t be wrong in making that connection. The practice is often used in tandem with meditation by various Eastern religions and new age spirituality practices. Because of this, mindfulness is sometimes thought of in a negative way, or at least with trepidation, but the practice isn’t inherently a form of worship in those practices.
Well, anyone really. Mindfulness has become more mainstream in recent years and is more common outside of the types of spiritual practices that the name often conjures in people’s minds. It's been shown to be beneficial for several reasons and has been incorporated into many types of therapies and rehabilitation programs. Studies have shown that it can help people recover from injury, trauma and addiction as well as help with stress reduction.
There’s no shortage of topics covered within Scripture. Whether you’re looking for answers to specific questions or just general guidance, the Bible is always a good place to turn for solutions. The subject of mindfulness is no different, and there are numerous verses to guide on the topic of mindfulness and its application. For example:
• 1 Peter 1:13 says to prepare our minds for action and to be sober minded.
• Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on things pure, honorable and worthy of praise.
• Romans 12:2 instructs us to renew our minds to discern the will of God.
• Proverbs 4:23 warns us to keep our heart with vigilance.
• Psalm 19:14 asks for the meditation of the heart to be acceptable to God.
These are just some of the verses that relate to the practice of mindfulness in relation to God. There are many more to discover and explore on your own.
The biggest differences in a Biblical approach to mindfulness compared to a worldly or other religious focused approach is in just that: the approach. Modern spirituality, mysticism and other religions work to focus on becoming empty minded and center on the individual self. This is the opposite of the Biblical method of mindfulness. To be mindful in the Scriptural way, you can:
• Think about the application of Scripture in the moment
• Focus on living for God in the present
• Think about your relationship with God
• Concentrate on prayer
In looking at it, the differences between the other practices and the Biblical method are obvious almost immediately. Biblical mindfulness is one in which you center your mind and work to have a clear conscious effort on the things of God, not on the self.
Prayer is absolutely vital in growing a relationship with God. Prayer is one of the best ways of connecting with God, and there’s plenty of verses in the Bible detailing its importance. For example:
• 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us that we should pray without ceasing.
• Colossians 4:2 says to continue steadfastly in prayer.
• Ephesians 6:18 admonishes us to pray at all times and do so in supplication.
• Psalm 145:18 informs us that the Lord is near to all who call on Him.
The importance of prayer can’t be understated. But sometimes it can seem daunting to try and pray with that much focus and intent. However, this is where the concept of mindfulness works to your benefit. To be mindful is to be in the present. Within prayer, that means to work diligently to be involved completely in your time of prayer.
It’s easy to get distracted and have your mind wander. There’s never a time when something isn’t trying to get your attention away from what you’re doing. This is where the proper application of mindfulness comes in: work to be mindful in acts of prayer, of Scripture reading and of meditation on the will of God.
Everyone’s spiritual journey is different, and each person has their own ways of connecting with God. Some people have certain gifts they use well for certain things and less so with others. Each person has their own struggles and successes in spiritual life, but being mindful as an active practice can be a powerful weapon in your spiritual arsenal. If nothing else, mindfulness can be a tool to help you in focusing on God's will, having a more deliberate and fruitful prayer life and just in general being more present in your walk with God.